Articles that explore the connection between epigenetics and diseases and disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and more.

Do We Already Have A Drug That Could Epigenetically Erase Traumatic Memories?

June 4, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine discovered that the drug fingolimod, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), could potentially benefit individuals who wish to get rid of painful and traumatic memories. While MS is still not entirely understood, the disease involves a process that is immune-mediated in which the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, namely the central nervous system – the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerves. Fingolimod, or FTY720, is a [more…]

Scientists Solve 30 Year Old Breast Cancer Riddle

May 28, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that mice lacking one copy of a gene called CTCF have abnormal DNA methylation and are markedly predisposed to cancer. This ground-breaking research helps solve a mystery that has loomed for over 30 years – which gene or genes cause the frequent loss of one copy of chromosome 16  in breast cancer cells. Dr. Gala Flippova, staff scientist at Fred Hutchinson, and his colleagues originally cloned the CTCF gene and mapped [more…]

Epigenetics Holds the Answer to Chemoresistance in Ovarian Cancer Patients

May 14, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A study conducted at Georgia State University and the University of Georgia gives us novel insight into the chemoresistance of ovarian cancer and offers a potential therapeutic approach to overcoming it. Inhibiting enzymes that lead to changes in gene expression could decrease chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer patients, researchers say. Dr. Susanna Greer and her colleagues have identified two enzymes that suppress proteins that regulate cell survival and chemoresistance in ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic [more…]

New Hope for People Suffering from Kidney Fibrosis

March 3, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

Injury to tissue in major organs such as the kidney causes inflammation which can lead to cell damage or cell death in the affected area. The human body is programmed with a normal physiological wound repair process for the damaged tissue – similar to the formation of a scar when we injure or damage our skin. Normally, once the injury has been contained, the wound repair process stops. Fibrosis is a pathological process similar to normal tissue wound repair; however, [more…]

“I Am No Longer Haunted By That Awful Memory” – New Epigenetic Drug Treatment May Erase Painful Memories

January 27, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

 Is it possible for a drug to dampen a traumatic memory? It may be, as researchers are discovering that a fundamental epigenetic mechanism is responsible for long-term fear memory. Neuroplasticity, also called brain plasticity, refers to the changes in neural connections such as synapses and neural pathways as a result of changes in behavior, environmental exposure and neural processes (1,2).  While it was once believed that the brain is a physiologically static organ and its networks were fixed, research over [more…]

The Epigenetic Landscape is a Key Determinant of Gene Expression Reprogramming in Cardiac Hypertrophy

December 4, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The epigenetic signature for cardiac hypertrophy, which can progress to heart failure through an adaptive response of the myocardium to stress, is still poorly understood. The scientists at Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano, Italy report on the genome-wide distribution of seven histone modifications in adult mouse cardiomyocytes subjected to a prohypertrophy stimulus in vivo. They found a set of promoters with an epigenetic pattern that distinguishes specific functional classes of genes regulated in hypertrophy and identified 9,207 candidate active [more…]

Simple Blood Test of DNA Methylation Markers Promises Early Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

November 1, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The scientists at Johns Hopkins University used a genome-wide pharmacologic transcriptome approach to identify two novel cancer-specific DNA methylation markers in cultured pancreatic cancer cells: BNC1 and ADAMTS1. Using a nanoparticle-enabled MOB (Methylation On Beads) technology, they found that these two markers are also frequently detected in serum samples of pancreatic cancer patients (N = 42) with a sensitivity for BNC1 of 79% and for ADAMTS1 of 48%, while the specificity was 89% for BNC1 and 92% for ADAMTS1. Overall [more…]

New Study Shows Epigenetic Process Controls Cancer-Killing Cells

October 1, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

A new study from the scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) describes for the first time how natural killer (NK) cells, which are able to kill and contain viruses and cancerous tumors in the human body, can be manipulated by epigenetics. Through a series of experiments in mice, these scientists found that MYSM1, an enzyme in the body’s immune system that turns genes on and off by modifying proteins called histones embedded in DNA, is required for natural [more…]

Targeting Noncoding RNAs in Disease: Challenges and Opportunities

September 13, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Noncoding RNAs make up the majority of transcribed RNA and have a wide range of functions in cellular and developmental processes. Consequently, they are also implicated in the development and pathophysiology of many diseases and represent potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Scientists found that effective in vivo inhibition (or silencing) of microRNA, one class of noncoding RNA, has enabled to make groundbreaking discoveries about the contribution of these short regulating RNAs to some of the major human diseases, such as [more…]

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